Coal Ash Coming to a Town Near You?

One man's trash is another man's treasure, they say.  Well, it appears that Tennessee's toxic coal sludge is headed out of state.

[UPDATE: The latest issue of GQ magazine covers the coal ash spill.]

The Tennessee Valley Authority is shipping some of the 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash sludge that spilled out of its retention pond at the Kingston TVA coal-fired power plant, polluting the Emery River and contaminating downstream communities, in Roane County last December to landfills in other states.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that 1,000 tons of dried sludge has been sent by train to Taylor County, east of Columbus, Georgia and another load has gone to Perry County, Alabama, between Tuscalossa and Montgomery.

But back in Tennessee, residents in Cumberland Country aren't so keen on being a coal ash dump.  In particular, many people are peeved by a controversial proposal to reclaim a strip mine by turning it into a landfill for the toxic ash from their neighbors' spill.  Local residents who live near the 300-acre site are rightly concerned about the health risks of the coal ash. 

The backdrop for all of this is the fact that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is now reviewing whether to regulate coal ash waste as hazardous under federal law.  The EPA has pledged to issue new rules for public comment by the end of the year. 

Meanwhile, all that contaminated coal ash from the Tennessee spill now headed to other states will be subject to standards that are weaker than those of the typical landfill handling house-hold waste.